HotelREZ Hotels & ResortsSource = HotelREZ Hotels & Resorts HotelREZ continues Asia expansion with The Light Hotel in MalaysiaFollowing its recent partnership with Singapore based Peak Hospitality Solutions; HotelREZ Hotels & Resorts continues to add new hotels to its Asia portfolio; the latest of which is the luxury 5 star The Light Hotel in Penang.The Light Hotel in Penang’s Seberang Jaya City, is the latest hotel in Asia to join HotelREZ Hotels & Resorts, one of the leading hotel representation companies, specialising in providing marketing and distribution solutions to independent and small chains of hotels. Other hotels which have recently come on board include the contemporary Glow Penang in George Town, Malaysia; the boutique Adonis Hotel located in Singapore, and the luxurious Paresa Resort in Phuket, Thailand.Centrally located in Penang’s Seberang Jaya City, the heart of Malaysia’s Northern Region, The Light Hotel is a premier business class hotel featuring elegantly appointed rooms and suites.Best suited for the fast-moving business travellers and leisure guests alike, The Light Hotel is ideal for a diverse range of corporate activities, MICE and events.
Qantas to bring free inflight WI-FI to Australian skiesQantas customers can look forward to world-leading inflight wi-fi from next year under a partnership with global broadband services provider ViaSat that will tap into the nbn™ network.The new service will feature speeds up to 10 times faster than conventional on-board wi-fi, giving customers the ability to stream movies, TV shows, the latest news bulletins and live sports on domestic flights via the internet.In-flight trials are expected to begin with a single Qantas Boeing 737 aircraft in late 2016, retrofitted with equipment to enable high-speed wi-fi. A full roll-out across Qantas Domestic’s fleet of A330s and B737s is planned from early 2017, with the aircraft to be fitted with modems and the advanced antenna that receives the satellite signal.Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said the goal was to make Australia home to the world’s best inflight wi-fi experience.“Bringing high-speed wi-fi to the domestic aviation market has been an ambition of ours for a long time and we now have access to the right technology to make it happen,” Mr Joyce said.“The sheer size of the Australian landmass creates some significant challenges for inflight connectivity but the recent launch of nbn’s satellite has opened up new opportunities that we plan to take advantage of with ViaSat’s help,” he added.Under the deal, ViaSat will provide Qantas with connectivity between the aircraft and the high capacity KA-band satellite and ground stations, which will then provide a link to the internet.The user-friendly speeds delivered by ViaSat to airlines in the U.S. have driven take-up rates among passengers that are four times higher than the industry average.“This service will give Qantas customers download speeds in the air similar to what they’re used to on the ground,” Mr Joyce said. Fly QantasSource = Qantas Airline
Get down to the tennis club. I know of one agent who in their own words was terrible at tennis, but took up lessons, started playing low-grade pennant and found a whole stack of people to talk to about travel. Get involved with local kids sport. I’ve been assistant teaching karate for six or seven years. When I see parents out of the dojo, they want to know what I do. Because I’m giving something to their kids, their natural instinct is to want to give something back. It might be Auskick, it might be scouts. Get a working with children’s check and give back. Source = roomsXML.com Get to your customers in person. I love idea of the hamper left at the doorstep of that client just home from the epic trip that you organised for them. Take the time to personally drop something in before they get home and let them know you are still thinking of them. They were forget youAll of these initiatives take time.It’s called an investment in your business.Whilst the machines can advertise on television, they can never shake a hand, actively participate in a local community or improve a 10-year-old’s backhand .Get out there and get engaged. Get on a committee. It might be local council, it might be grounds improvement at the park. The more exposure for your name in the local area for local causes gives people more of a chance to read about you and the great work that you do. Oh, you are also a travel agent ….. Five ways acting in your locality can drive your local businessThe steam powered engine, the car, long haul flights, personal computers. They all had something in common; their emergence signaled the start of “interesting times”.Is where we are now unprecedented? Definitely.More people from more places traveling more regularly. The global economy. Facilitated by the machines concentrating wealth more than ever before. Meanwhile the biggest economy in the world is trying to limit the flow of global business.Machines are scary. Travel Vision 2020 showed us you can’t win an arm wrestle with a company such as Expedia or bookings.com whose turnover is thousands, if not millions of times greater than that of your yours. Are you advertising on tele for your high-street business ?The formula for beating the machines is known ; create a niche which is unassailable, play in the space they can’t access or is not worth their while trying to access.Local.We’ve had literally tens of thousands of meetings globally in our decade of business at roomsXML. . Here are five of the best local initiatives from successful agents in growing business Run a local event. Whether its a travel night or a local business event where your business is one of three key themes. It creates local advocates in a loose business network whilst accessing a new client base. learn more about roomsXML.com here
“It is truly an honour to accept this year’s award on behalf of Star Cruises and Genting Cruise Lines. We thank the voters for their continuous support and it is indeed a privilege to receive this recognition for six years in a row from the World Travel Awards,” said Mr. Kent Zhu, President of Genting Cruise Lines. “With our hard working and dedicated team at Star Cruises, we will continue to strive to exceed the expectations of our guests and the cruise industry, raising the level of service and offerings, as well as creating new milestones across the region.” Star Cruises vote Asia’s Leading Cruise Line 2017Star Cruises was voted “Asia’s Leading Cruise Line 2017” at this year’s 24th Annual World Travel Awards Asia & Australasia Gala Ceremony held in Shanghai, China on 4 June 2017. As Asia’s pioneering cruise line brand, Star Cruises was once again recognized by travel and tourism professionals worldwide as “Asia’s Leading Cruise Line” for six consecutive years since 2012. Star Cruises continues to expand and reaffirm its leading position in the contemporary Asian market segment, introducing new homeports and destinations in the region. At the end of May 2017, SuperStar Virgo completed her successful “Jewels of the South China Sea” cruise itinerary, a one-of-a-kind cruise journey with triple homeports in Hong Kong, Manila (Philippines) and Kaohsiung (Taiwan). In Manila, Star Cruises is proud to be the first international cruise line to homeport in the Philippines, opening up new opportunities for the domestic and regional cruise tourism market.For the month of June 2017, SuperStar Virgo extends her homeport deployment in Taiwan, joining SuperStar Aquarius in Keelung (homeported year round), offering a variation of itineraries to Japan including Ishigaki, Motobu, Naha, Miyakojima, Kagoshima and Hososhima respectively.Commencing 6 July until 30 November 2017, SuperStar Virgo will introduce a new 7-Night “Golden Sea Route” cruise itinerary, in line with international standards of cruise lengths where more than 50% of cruises are of 7-Night duration. SuperStar Virgo will also make her homeport debut in Shanghai, China, and introduce Star Cruises’ first-ever homeport deployments to Osaka and Tokyo (Yokohama) together with added calls to Mt. Fuji (Shimizu) and Kagoshima. The launch of SuperStar Virgo’s “Golden Sea Route” cruise will provide a new Chinese cruise experience and also attract more international cruise travellers to Shanghai and its neighbouring homeports.In Hong Kong, Star Pisces will continue to homeport in the bustling metropolis all year round with the short get-away 1-Night High Seas itineraries. For the Southeast Asian market and the fly-cruise market, SuperStar Libra, homeported in Penang (Malaysia), and SuperStar Gemini in Singapore, will continue to offer year round popular itineraries that include High Seas cruises and destination cruise itineraries to neighbouring destinations such as to Malaysia and Thailand respectively. Commencing 1 December 2017 until 27 April 2018, SuperStar Gemini will homeport in Laem Chabang, Thailand, embarking on 3-night cruises to Sihanoukville and Ko Samui, as well as 2-night cruises to either Sihanoukville or Koh Kong Island. With this new deployment, Star Cruises will shine the spotlight on Thailand as a premier destination in Asia for the fly-cruise market.Moving ahead, Star Cruises will continue to develop the Asian cruise industry and strengthen its position in the contemporary market segment with bold initiatives including the addition of two new and modern “Global Class” ships in 2020 and 2021. Star Cruises will widen its footprint in key Asian markets with innovative offerings and new itineraries, further reinforcing the Star Cruises brand as “Asia’s Leading Cruise Line”.Source = Star Cruises
Mt Lofty House, MGallery HVR VerandahLove is in the air this Valentine’s DayNew South WalesHarbour Rocks Hotel, MGallery by SofitelThis Valentine’s Day guests at Harbour Rocks Hotel’s Scarlett Restaurant are invited to enjoy a four course degustation dinner, plus a glass of bubbles on arrival and a red rose. Priced from $160.00 per person, or $130.00 per person for AccorPlus members. The meal must be fully prepaid and is non-refundable, subject to availability and conditions apply. To book, visit www.harbourrocks.com.au.Novotel Lake CrackenbackGuests are invited to rekindle their romance in the picturesque Snowy Mountains with the High Country Romance Package at Novotel Lake Crackenback. The package includes two nights accommodation, buffet breakfast daily, a two course dinner at Alpine Larder, a relaxing 45 minute massage for each guest, late check-out and complimentary resort activities including tennis courts and archery. Priced from $479 per person, the package is subject to availability and conditions apply. To book, visit www.lakecrackenback.com.au.Sofitel Sydney WentworthThis Valentine’s Day Sofitel Sydney Wentworth presents High Tea au Chocolat. The hotel’s renowned pastry team has partnered with the chocolatiers of Weiss chocolate to create a sinfully sweet surprise for guests to share with their amour. Priced from $69 per person, $79 per person including a glass of sparkling wine and $89 per person including a glass of Vevue Clicquot. For more information and to book, visit www.sofitelsydney.com.au.Pullman Quay Grand Sydney HarbourThe Ultimate Romance Package is presented by Pullman Quay Grand Sydney Harbour this Valentine’s Day. Guests will enjoy an indulgent three course dinner and bottle of Champagne for two, served by a butler from their very own private balcony of one of the hotel’s luxurious suites. The suites offer one the world’s most romantic views of Sydney Harbour and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Priced from $1,199, the package also includes overnight accommodation, early check in, late check out and breakfast for two at Q Dining. Subject to availability and conditions apply. To book, visit www.pullmanquaygrandsydneyharbour.com.PerthMercure PerthThis Valentine’s Day, the Chef at Mercure Perth has designed a menu allowing guests to choose from romantically themed two, three or five course dinner options. Menu selections include indulgent oysters, soft shell crab and duck. Priced from $45 per person, including a glass of bubbles on arrival. To book call 08 9326 7000 or email H1754-FB1@accor.com.Novotel Perth LangleyGuests are invited to celebrate Valentine’s Day at Novotel Perth Langley. The hotel is offering a set menu at Senses Restaurant, including seafood options and an indulgent dessert trilogy. Priced from $65 per person or $50 per person for Accor Plus Members. To book visit, novotelperthlangley.com.au.AdelaideMt Lofty House, MGallery by Sofitel This Valentine’s Day, guests at Mt Lofty House, MGallery by Sofitel can enjoy a three, four or seven course dinner menu designed for romance at Hardy’s Verandah Restaurant (awarded three hats by the Australian Good Food Guide). Each in-house guest will be welcomed with a glass of the hotel’s Sequoia sparkling wine, and guests staying in the hotel’s Valley View rooms will be treated to a complimentary bottle of wine to be shared on the balcony and paired with stunning views. The menus are priced from $95 per person for three courses, $109 per person for four courses and $160 per person for seven courses. To book, visit www.mtloftyhouse.com.au.QueenslandMercure Kingfisher Bay Resort Fraser IslandGuests are invited to enjoy Valentine’s Day at Kingfisher Bay Resort on the stunning Fraser Island. The Fraser Romance Package includes three nights’ accommodation in a spa room, buffet breakfast daily, a complimentary bottle of wine and cheese platter at the Sunset Bar, a 30 minute massage per person and return passenger ferry transfers (ex River Heads). Priced from $498, the package is subject to availability and conditions apply. To book visit, www.kingfisherbay.comPullman Palm Cove Sea Temple Resort and SpaGuests are invited to treat their Valentine this year to a very special private dining experience at Pullman Palm Cove. The hotel’s ‘Red Romance Dinner’ allows guests to retreat to their suite with their valentine to enjoy a privately hosted dinner complete with red roses, chocolates and a Valentine’s Day degustation dinner. Priced from $499 per couple, subject to availability and conditions apply. To book, call 07 4059 9600 or email H8761@accor.com.Northern TerritoryAyers Rock ResortThis Valentine’s Day guests are invited to indulge in the Mayu Wiru Exclusive Dining Experience. The evening begins with canapes and Champagne on a private look-out at Sails in the Desert. This is followed by an exclusive dinner served at the hotel’s private dining room during which guests will enjoy four exquisite courses infused with ancient Indigenous flavours and paired with premium wine. Mayu Wiru takes on the ancient Pitjantjatjara name for ‘beautiful flavour’ and serves up a truly innovative menu highlighted by our executive chef’s artistic use of Indigenous flavours and the unmistakable presence of exceptional service. After dinner, guests will be transferred to the Field of Light dune top to take in panoramic views of the Field of Light exhibition and the sparkling sky above. While guests enjoy a digistif the resident star talker will take them on a guided journey through the Southern night sky. The evening concludes with a private tour through the Field of Light where guests will be immersed by the 50,000 softy glistening lights of this global art phenomenon. The Mayu Wiru Exclusive Dining Experience is priced from $295pp and bookings can be made online at www.ayersrockresort.com.au.Source = AccorHotels
Lombok Earthquake | An update from our Indonesia officeLombok Earthquake | An update from our Indonesia officeEsteemed friends and business partnersFollowing last night’s earthquake which hit Lombok island, Asian Trails Indonesia would like to update you on the current situation and we are working to try and minimise the impact on our guests currently on Lombok and the Gili Islands.Currently there are 82 reported deaths which we believe to be locals, with no fatalities to foreign nationals currently reported.The North East of Lombok where the earthquake hit was the most affected. Some hotels in Senggigi area and on the Gili Islands have received some light damage, but fortunately no one has been harmed. Most guests slept outside on elevated ground due to the risk of further tremors and a tsunami warning which since has been lifted.There is currently a lack of boats from the Gilis to Lombok mainland but we are already moving affected guests from Gili islands to Lombok since the early morning hours and make sure that they are in safe hands until they can board the next flight. We are now waiting for the government to confirm extra flights out of Lombok and will look to move clients off of Lombok once these flights are confirmed.The earthquake was felt quite strongly in Bali and some minor damage has been reported on the island, but Bali is considered safe, with no reported casualties. We will be in contact with agents who have clients on Lombok and the Gili islands, as well as those due to travel to Lombok to discuss the options available and provide the best possible solution for them.Please bear with us a while we await news from the government regarding the extra flights from Lombok and for us to find alternative accommodation for clients upon their return to Lombok.We would like to stress that although the earthquakes can be felt from Bali that is considered to be safe and we do not foresee any cause for concern with clients currently in Bali.We are monitoring the situation closely and will update you accordingly.If you have any questions, please contact our Customer Service manager, Mr Marek Bis, at email email@example.com or alternatively, contact us anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org or at +62 (0) 361 285 771 during office hours or our 24/7 hotline outside of office hours at +62 (0) 811 386 9377.Kindest regardsAsian Trails IndonesiaSource = Asian Trails Indonesia
Source = Emirates Emirates celebrates 15 years of connecting Auckland to the worldEmirates celebrates 15 years of connecting Auckland to the worldEmirates is celebrating 15 years of successful operations to Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city. Since its inaugural flight in 2003, Emirates has carried over two million passengers to and from Auckland, connecting New Zealand to the world, with 21 flights a week to Dubai, Bali and beyond.Emirates began its services to Auckland with daily flights via Sydney and Melbourne and, later, Brisbane. In 2009, the award-winning airline introduced its iconic A380 aircraft to the route, providing a revolutionary double-decker aircraft to transport passengers between Auckland, Sydney and Emirates’ cosmopolitan hub, Dubai. The operations were further enhanced few years later with the A380 operating all Auckland flights via Melbourne and Brisbane. Today, Emirates operates a daily A380 non-stop flight from Auckland to Dubai as well as a new daily B777-300 ER service via Bali, Indonesia.With the launch of the new Dubai-Auckland-Bali route in June, Emirates became the only airline offering daily, year-round flights to Bali, providing New Zealanders with greater choice and flexibility when booking their island holiday. Emirates also serves New Zealand with a daily A380 flight between Christchurch and Dubai via Sydney.“We’re thrilled to be celebrating 15 years of flying into Auckland which has become an important part of Emirates’ success story in the region. We would like to thank all our customers and industry partners in New Zealand for their long-standing support over the years. We are proud to contribute to the city’s thriving tourism and trade industry, connecting Auckland to more than 160 destinations across six continents with only one stop in Dubai,” said Thierry Antinori, Emirates’ Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer.Emirates SkyCargo has uplifted over 85,000 tonnes of cargo to and from Auckland in the last three years, carrying goods such as fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, pharmaceuticals and equipment. The freight division remains a major airfreight operator in New Zealand offering more than 55 tonnes of belly-hold capacity each day. In 2017, Emirates Skycargo successfully transported ‘New Zealand Aotearoa’ – Emirates Team New Zealand’s race boat – from Auckland to Bermuda in advance of the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup sailing competition.Emirates has recently won two top awards in New Zealand at the annual Roy Morgan Customer Satisfaction Awards. The airline has taken the title of ‘international Airline of the Year’ as well as the ‘Best of the Best’ for 2017, coming out on top of all other 21 category winners with the highest customer satisfaction of any company operating in New Zealand.World class servicePassengers on all Emirates flights can enjoy Wi-Fi to stay in touch with family and friends or Emirates’ multi award-winning icewith up to 3,500 channels of movies, TV programmes, music and podcasts. Emirates provides its customers with a host of culinary offerings prepared by gourmet chefs and fine wines that suit the tastes of everyone. Passengers can also experience Emirates’ renowned in-flight service from the airline’s multi-national cabin crew from over 130 countries, including New Zealand.Emirates SkywardsEmirates’ popular loyalty programme, Emirates Skywards, brings its Kiwi members value, choice and flexibility. The award-winning loyalty programme offers four tiers of membership – Blue, Silver, Gold and Platinum – with each membership tier providing exclusive privileges. Emirates Skywards members earn Skywards Miles when they fly on Emirates or partner airlines, or when they use the programme’s designated hotels, car rentals, financial, leisure and lifestyle partners. Skywards Miles can be redeemed for an extensive range of rewards, including tickets on Emirates and other Emirates Skywards partner airlines, flight upgrades, hotel accommodation, excursions and exclusive shopping.
On The Go Tours to open Canada officeOn The Go Tours to open Canada officeOn The Go Tours, the award-winning tour operator specialising in locally-led group tours and tailor-made holidays to worldwide destinations, is opening a reservations office in Canada.Set to open August 1st 2019 in Toronto, the new office will be the working base for six reservation consultants headed by Mike Quinto, General Manager of North America. Joining offices in London, Brisbane and Johannesburg, On The Go Tours have chosen Canada to further grow their global presence as a result of increased booking numbers from the region. Over the last 12 months bookings have increased by 20%, indicating an even stronger market than the US, and is estimated to grow a further 40% this year.General Manager of North America, Mike Quinto says “Our tours to Africa, Egypt, Iceland, Vietnam, and Latin America are by far our most popular destinations by the North American Market. “These regions are complimented by high airline capacity and competitive airfares which adds to the appeal” Quinto continued.The Canadian team will work closely with travel agents and established trade partners to drive awareness of the UK-based company in the North American market. Moreover, the move will ensure that On The Go Tours provide top quality service to North American customers, overcoming the challenge of time zones, ensuring that both customers and agents are assisted in real time.About On The Go Tours On The Go Tours is an award-winning travel operator specialising in locally-led group tours and tailor-made holidays to over 60 countries. Established as a small global company with a purposeful local ethos, On The Go Tours operates expertly guided group tours, tailor-made getaways and fun family holidays. From mysterious Inca citadels in Peru to spectacular ancient ruins in Jordan and sacred mountain peaks in Japan, the team of travel experts connects travellers with the finest sights and experiences the world has to offer. Group tours include arrival/departure transfers, heritage properties and quality local desert camps. Specialising in holidays for those who wish to combine authentic cultural experiences with comfortable hotels and transport, On The Go Tours enriches each journey by selecting specialist English-speaking local guides who are passionate about sharing their country with travellers.http://www.onthegotours.com ABTA, ATOL & AITO bondedSource = On The Go Tours
Nepal has reopened many of the heritage sites in the Kathmandu valley to the public, in a bid to attract tourists after April’s devastating earthquake. Nepal also appealed to the international community to send tourists to its famed heritage sites to revive its ailing tourism industry.Nepalese authorities opened many popular heritage sites which included three former ‘durbar’ or royal squares in Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur. Their glittering palaces and historic temples attracted tens of thousands of tourists, particularly from neighbouring India. More than 128 tourists have visited Kathmandu Durbar Square within 48 hours of its opening.“If you want to help Nepal send visitors to our monuments and shrines. There are beautiful places and historical and cultural sites which are less affected by the earthquake and it is safe to visit these places,” said Tourism Minister Kripasur Sherpa, during the opening of the sites.The Post-Disaster Needs Assessment report has urged the government to announce 2017 and 2018 as Visit Nepal Year to assure visitors that reconstruction and rehabilitation will be completed by then. As the Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) and the private sector have been spending a combined Rs 2.20 billion annually on tourism marketing and promotion during normal times, the outlay has to be increased multiple fold to revive the market, the report said.Vice President Andrew Jones and Crisis Expert Bert Van Walbeek from the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Headquarters in Bangkok visited Pokhara recently to present a Tourism Recovery Plan to the Government, NTB, and private sector tourism officials. The recovery plan was drafted in consultation with tourism workers and experts from across the world, with strategies for fast recovery of Nepal tourism in the next couple months.
Discover Dominica Authority, in collaboration with the Forestry Division of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, has announced the opening of a number of Dominica’s hiking trails.Seven segments of the Waitukubuli National Trail, Caribbean’s longest walking trail, are ready to welcome the adventurous hiker. Although some trails were closed after infrastructural damage caused by the passage of Tropical Storm Erika, the Forestry Division has worked tirelessly to ensure their accessibility. Segments Three, Four, Six, Eleven, Twelve, Thirteen and Fourteen, totalling nearly 81 km (50 miles), are open to hikers. Trail users are advised to exercise caution when hiking the open segments of the trail as some landscape features may have changed.Other popular, accessible and operational attractions which involve some level of hiking include: Trafalgar Falls, Emerald Pool, L’Escalier Tete Chien, Middleham Falls, Freshwater Lake, Cabrits National Park and Syndicate Nature Trail.The trek to the famous Boiling Lake–a level 4 (difficult) hike across towering mountain ranges, hot streams, hot boiling mud, mini geysers and forests–is open and considered a “must do” for the trekking enthusiast. Guides are recommended as there are landscape changes on certain trails. Hikers are encouraged to use appropriate hiking gear when trekking in Dominica.The Forestry Division continues to assess the island’s hiking trails and will provide updates once assessments have been made and necessary repairs have been completed.
Economist Examines Correlation Between Tech Boom and Home Prices Share A new analysis by “”Trulia””:http://www.trulia.com/ chief economist “”Jed Kolko””:http://trends.truliablog.com/2014/02/price-and-rent-monitors-jan-2014/ notes some interesting numbers for the housing market of the top ten “”tech hubs”” around the United States.[IMAGE]Using Census Data, Kolko created a “”tech score”” for each of the largest 100 metro areas, averaging “”the share of local employment in the software publishing, data processing and hosting, and Internet publishing, broadcasting, and search-portal industries,”” as well as the area’s “”share of local employees in the computer programmer, software developer, and Web developer occupations”” compared with the rest of the population.San Jose, California; Seattle, Washington; and San Francisco, California, were the top three markets. The list included other markets such as Austin, Texas, and Raleigh, North Carolina.Kolko notes month-to-month asking prices nationally were up 1.1 percent in January, the largest gain since June 2013. Despite recent protests bemoaning the fate of San Francisco’s rising cost of housing, year-to-year home prices in tech hubs such like the Bay Area remain fairly consistent with the rising national average of 11.4 percent, a 2 percentage point difference from the 13.4 percent gain in the ten largest tech hubs.The slight increase from the national average is not based on technology businesses in the area, according to Kolko. Rather, tech hubs “”had steeper price declines during the bust and have fewer homes stuck in foreclosure today–and both of those factors are driving the current price rebound.””However, certain conclusions are clear: Homes, on average, are more expensive in tech hubs around the nation. Compared to other areas, the average cost per square foot of a home in the top tech areas is $242. Compared to the rest of the nation’s cost per square foot of $133, homes in the tech hub represent an 82 percent difference in cost.Qualifying factors must be considered for current cost-per-square foot numbers in relation to pre-bust numbers, writes Kolko. In 1990, home prices in tech hubs were 52 percent higher than the national average.Major research universities, technically skilled workers, computer manufacturing, and nice climates made certain areas more attractive to technology companies. Tech hubs were more expensive in the pre-Internet age, and the trend continues.San Francisco is often representative of all technology-centric markets, but San Francisco’s unique geography makes purchasing a home particularly arduous. One factor working against San Francisco is the location of the city. On average, out of 1,000 homes, a mere 117 new homes are new constructions.Other tech hubs like Raleigh and Austin experienced new home construction at rates ten times and eight times higher than San Francisco, respectively. San Francisco’s location near an ocean, on a bay, and adjacent to steep cliffs severely hampers new housing construction that could lower home prices for a growing workforce.Kolko notes that home affordability is not a new problem for tech hubs; rather, the rising cost of homeownership stems from low home production coupled with an attractive area. Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Home Prices Housing Affordability Investors Lenders & Servicers Service Providers Trulia 2014-02-10 Tory Barringer in Data February 10, 2014 448 Views
Report: For Servicers, a Sea Change in Daily Dose, Featured, News, Servicing In a press release issued by Fitch Ratings, the company comments that the past year has seen a “sea change” in who is servicing severely delinquent U.S. mortgage loans—and how they are being serviced. Fitch found that 2013 saw many portfolios of non-agency residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) mortgage servicing rights (MSR) move from banks to non-bank servicers.Fitch’s analysis is supported by increased investigations by government agencies into possible concerns associated with non-bank servicer’s rapid growth.Fitch found, “In fact, non-banks now service nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of non-agency deals. Large non-bank servicers such as Ocwen and Nationstar have absorbed much of this product, with their total servicing portfolios growing by 250% and 100%, respectively, over the past 12 months.”The shift in servicing portfolios has had a large impact on existing RMBS. According to managing director Roelof Slump, servicing transfers from banks to non-banks reveal key strategic goals between the two types.”Non-bank servicers are proving to be more aggressive in their monitoring of principal and interest advances,” Slump said. “Non-bank servicers are also showing themselves to be more proactive in their use of loan modifications and are seeing shorter overall timelines.”These differences in strategy affect both monthly cash flow and ultimate loss severities, according to Fitch.In light of the recent completion of the National Mortgage Settlement Agreement, new rules went into effect that impact all mortgage servicers. The previous settlement left out non-bank servicers, who now have to abide by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) new regulations.”This in turn placed non-banks under greater scrutiny than what they had seen previously,” Fitch said.Fitch notes that new oversight will yield higher fixed costs, as technology and process enhancements are made in order to comply with the new guidelines. This increase in cost will push non-bank servicers to grow their portfolios, and Fitch suggests “strong forces are still in place to further incent both outright MSR sales and subservicing arrangements, thus heightening scrutiny of such transactions.”Conversely, commercial banks remain incentivized to control the overall size of their portfolios, and reduce their servicing of underperforming loans. Compliance Fitch Ratings Mortgage Servicing Rights Nationstar Ocwen RMBS 2014-03-31 Colin Robins March 31, 2014 433 Views Share
The Supply and Demand of Housing Forecast Freddie Mac Home Prices Home Sales Housing Starts Mortgage Rates 2014-05-20 Tory Barringer As housing metrics continue to take unexpected turns, it’s become clear by now that the current recovery has functioned unlike any other. In the company’s latest Economic & Housing Market Outlook, economists Frank Nothaft and Leonard Kiefer at Freddie Mac took a look at three fundamental areas—mortgage rates, home sales, and household formations—to figure out why.Dissecting each category, the economists come to the conclusion that the reason why housing has moved in the direction it’s taken is due to one of the most basic economic rules: supply and demand.Starting with mortgage rates, the researchers note that despite climbing compared to last year, rates in the last few months have remained fairly steady, an unexpected reaction to the Federal Reserve’s movements to gradually end its monthly asset purchase plan. In fact, as of mid-May, Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey had 30-year average fixed rates at a six-month low.However, since recent cuts to the Fed’s purchases of mortgage-backed securities (MBS) have coincided with a dramatic decline in mortgage originations—and thus MBS issuance—the effect has been minor so far.”[E]ven though the Fed’s purchases of MBS (the monthly ‘net addition’ plus the replacement of principal pay downs on existing holdings) are down significantly, so are monthly MBS issuances,” the researchers said in their latest report. “In fact, the Fed’s acquisitions, as a ratio to new issuance, are slightly higher than a year ago.”In other words,” they went on, “the Fed’s ‘demand’ for new MBS has declined less than has new ‘supply’, thus keeping the Fed’s share of MBS issuance above year-ago levels.”With refinance demand down so significantly over the past year, originations and issuance are expected to remain low, meaning the Fed’s scaledown in purchases won’t meaningfully push rates up until asset purchases near zero.On the topic of the relationship between home sales and prices—namely, prices continuing to rise despite weak sales data—Nothaft and Kiefer argue that nothing out of the ordinary is happening: Though sales are down, demand for housing has stayed strong, as evidenced by the estimated 5.2 months’ supply of homes on the market as of March. And with few additional homes trickling into the available stock, the combination of high demand and low supply has lifted prices throughout the recovery.Also key to the rise in prices is a decline in distressed sales and low-priced stock, bringing the median up.Finally turning to the actual supply of homes, the two economists observed that though housing starts have risen from their 2009 trough, they have struggled to get back to normal historical levels, in large part because of the lackluster rate of household formations, which have barely crossed the 500,000 mark annually since the Great Recession.Though birth rates through the late 80’s and early 90’s are favorable for new household growth at this time, the other main factor affecting household formations—the business cycle—is still weak after the crisis.”[M]any adults in their 20s have continued to live with relatives (often parents) and have had to wait an extended period to save funds and generate an earnings cash-flow sufficient to set up their own household,” the economists wrote. “We understand that we might sound like a broken record here, along with many other economists, but the need to have a job before buying a house is a simple fact of life.”With economic growth expected to accelerate to an annualized rate of 3.0 percent in the coming quarters, payroll gains should improve to a steady 200,000–250,000 per month, contributing to new formations and new starts.”If we get that, we’ll be able to address the underlying ‘supply’ problem because we know the ‘demand’ for housing is there,” Nothaft and Kiefer concluded. Share in Daily Dose, Data, Headlines, News May 20, 2014 548 Views
FHFA: HARP Refinance Volume Continues to Grow for Q1 The Federal Housing and Finance Agency (FHFA) recently released their first quarter refinance report, revealing that refinance volume has increased in March, while mortgage rates remained near 20 month lows in February. The Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) had 31,648 refinances, bringing the total refinances through this program to 3,302,102 since it began.HARP volume represented six percent of total refinance volume in the first quarter of 2015, the report said. Borrowers with loan-to-value ratios greater than 105 percent accounted for 24 percent of the volume of HARP loans, in the first quarter, while eight percent of refinanced loans had a loan-to-value ratio greater than 125 percent.The FHFA also reported, 28 percent of HARP refinances for underwater borrowers were for shorter-term 15-and 20-year mortgages. These build equity faster than traditional 30-year mortgages. In the first quarter, HARP refinances represented 14 or more percent of total refinances in Florida and Georgia, more than double the six percent of total refinances nationwide over the same period.A lower delinquency rate was seen by borrowers who refinanced through HARP compared to borrowers eligible for HARP who did not refinance through the program, the report said.HARP was enacted April 1, 2009 to help homeowners who are unable to access a refinance due a decline in their home value, the FHFA noted in the report. The program gives borrowers a chance to refinance by allowing them to transfer the existing mortgage insurance to their newly refinanced loan, or by allowing those without mortgage insurance on their previous loan to refinance with new coverage. HARP was expanded in 2012 to provide more access to the program for responsible borrowers. The program is set to expire December 31, 2015.HARP Eligibility Criteria:Loan must be owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.Loan must have been originated on or before May 31, 2009.Current loan-to-value ratio — LTV — (outstanding mortgage balance/home value) must be greater than 80 percent. There is no LTV ceiling.Borrower must be current on their mortgage payments at the time of the refinance.Payment history – borrower is allowed one late payment in the past 12 months, as long as it did not occur in the six months prior to the refinance. May 29, 2015 486 Views Federal Housing and Finance Agency First Quarter Refinance Report Home Affordable Refinance Program 2015-05-29 Staff Writer in Daily Dose, Data, Government, Headlines, News, Servicing Share
October 14, 2015 627 Views in Daily Dose, Government, Headlines, News Share Julián CastroHillary ClintonHUD Secretary Julián Castro, whose name has been bantered for months as a possible vice presidential candidate, plans to announce his endorsement for former U.S. Secretary of State and Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton on Thursday, according to multiple media sources.Castro, 41, has been HUD Secretary since July 2014. Prior to becoming the country’s top housing official, Castro served as mayor of San Antonio from 2009 to 2014. His twin brother, Joaquin, a Democratic U.S. Senator from Texas, has already endorsed Clinton and done some campaigning for her.Clinton is hopeful that the endorsement from Julián Castro will aid her in the attempt to win the Hispanic vote for the 2016 presidential election as the race with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders for the Democratic nomination tightens, according to reports. Clinton has a history of popularity with Hispanic voters. In the 2008 Democratic Primaries, Hispanic voters chose Clinton over then-Senator Barack Obama by a 2 to 1 margin, according to CNN. The news station reported that the announcement of Castro’s endorsement will come at a grassroots event in Texas called Latinos for Hillary.Castro had dinner with former President Bill Clinton in August 2014, which is seen by many as the point that began speculation about Castro becoming Hillary’s running mate, according to the Washington Post. Castro has always deflected conjecture that he would be on the ticket for VP in 2016.In reaction to the news that Castro was endorsing Clinton for president, the GOP was critical of both Clinton and Castro.”Hillary Clinton and Julián Castro have one thing in common: no one has any idea what they’ve accomplished,” Republican National Convention Spokeswoman Ruth Guerra said in a statement. “This endorsement will do nothing to save Hillary’s flailing campaign in the midst of plummeting poll numbers and an FBI investigation into the mishandling of classified information on her secret email server.”Castro defended Clinton when asked by CNN about the email controversy, stating the information was not classified at the time she handled it and that it did not become classified until after the fact.Castro’s pending announcement of his endorsement of Clinton for president was first announced by Buzzfeed, according to CNN. Endorsement Hillary Clinton HUD Secretary Castro 2015-10-14 Seth Welborn HUD Secretary Castro to Announce Hillary Clinton Endorsement Thursday
While U.S. economists debate how a set of troubles playing out overseas will affect the American mortgage market, Kroll Bond Rating Agency predicts that these troubles will probably not bring the refinancing volume some might think.Kroll’s outlook report for the second half of 2016 stated that the financial troubles in Europe and China that are helping to keep U.S. mortgage rates near historic lows “will probably boost refinancing volumes less than expected.” At the same time, “continued strong growth in mortgage loans for new home purchases will probably offset at least some of the difference,” Kroll reported.The Mortgage Bankers Association estimates $1.7 trillion in mortgage originations for 2016, which is up slightly from 2015. This, Kroll stated, should increase lending volume throughout the rest of the year.The MBA also expects $880 billion in purchase mortgages and $749 billion‒‒46 percent share‒‒for mortgage refinance transactions.The International Center on Housing Risk in Washington recently noted that lending to borrowers with FICO scores below 700 has increased dramatically, with the GSEs up as much as 27 percent year-over-year.But Kroll cautioned that increased lending volumes will also carry potential hazards down the road. For one thing, mortgage rates historically have lagged behind benchmark 10-year Treasury securities, even as yields have hit an all-time low. As is usual, prices for residential mortgage-backed securities have trailed the upward move in Treasury bonds, Kroll reported. This, however, is consistent with the move in mortgage rates in 2012, when the all-time low was set.“With interest rates falling under the inexorable pull of debt-deflation, there is reason to believe that in the near term mortgage refinance volume will rebound to half of total originations.”Kroll Bond Ratings Agency“If you look at the 2012 period, one can see that the 10-year yield bottomed out in July, and started rising into the end of the year,” said mortgage industry veteran Rob Chrisman of Bay Area-based Chrisman LLC. “Mortgage rates kept falling throughout the year, bottoming out in December. So, in 2012 mortgage rates didn’t bottom out until 5 months after Treasuries did.”Though Kroll’s report admitted that predictions in a free-market environment in a growing amount of chaos, Kroll also stated that “the results so far in the US mortgage market point to a bullish year for purchase mortgages and the possibility of a better year in refinancing volumes, albeit from a lower base.”According to Kroll, mortgage lending by depositories continues to fall, with loans securitized with servicing retained down to $704 billion (14 percent from last year).Also, mortgage banking profits tumbled 27 percent from Q4 2015 to Q1 2016.“Commercial banks continue to retreat from mortgage lending under the relentless bombardment of prudential and consumer regulators, who have collectively made 1-4 family mortgages the most problematic asset that a bank can originate and hold,” the report stated. “Adding insult to injury, non-cash losses due to model-driven markdowns of mortgage servicing rights have been a significant drag on the reported profitability of all mortgage originators.”So while lending could be robust, the potential secondary lending boom some expect could amount to not much.“With interest rates falling under the inexorable pull of debt-deflation,” Kroll reported, “there is reason to believe that in the near term mortgage refinance volume will rebound to half of total originations.”Click here to view the full report from Kroll Bond Ratings Agency. in Daily Dose, Headlines, News, Origination Refinancing Volumes May Be Slower Than Hoped Kroll Bond Ratings Agency Mortgage Rates Mortgage Refinances 2016-07-13 Seth Welborn Share July 13, 2016 528 Views
Share January 30, 2018 621 Views Existing-Home Sales GSE Reform Home Prices Home Sales House Prices Housing Reform immigration reform state of housing State of the Union State of the Union Address 2018-01-30 David Wharton in Daily Dose, Featured, Government, Headlines, News The State of Housing As President Trump will present his State of the Union address to the Senate this evening, what is the State of the Housing Industry? With home prices that show no signs of decreasing, changes in leadership at the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB), continued reforms in the GSE sector, and new initiatives at the Bureau of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), 2017 was an eventful year. Here’s an overview of the opportunities and challenges faced by the industry during the past year.Industry Reform in the Cards?Despite regulation expanding with the new HDMA guidelines that took effect in January 2018, the trend seems to be veering away from “regulation through enforcement,” making lenders more hopeful of a positive dialogue with CFPB, according to a report by analytics firm STRATMOR. The industry is closely following the latest changes in leadership at the CFPB and the nominations for the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) to gauge the administration’s stance on easing regulations.Meanwhile, the GSEs have shown growth, with first-time homebuyer share of GSE purchase loans recording the highest level in recent history at 48.1 percent in April and 46.4 percent in October 2017, according to a report by the Urban Institute.The FHA has continued its focus on first-time homebuyers, with its first-time homebuyer share at 81.9 percent in October 2017.Robust Growth of the Housing MarketThe S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Indices showed year-over-year increases of 5 percent or more for 16 straight months. This trend was also reflected on many other indices, including the First American Real House Price Index analyzing the November 2017 data, which showed that homes were 5 percent more expensive compared to the same period a year before.Existing home sales increased 1.1 percent to 5.51 million sales, surpassing the 5.45 million recorded in 2016. This market the highest existing home sales since 2006, according to a report published by the National Association of Realtors (NAR).Impact of Changes in Immigration Law on HousingChanges in the immigration law, a key area of interest for all those who will be watching the State of the Union address on Tuesday, is likely to also affect the housing industry. According to a study by WalletHub on the economic impact of foreign-born populations on the 50 states and the District of Columbia, New York would be most impacted by the administration’s proposed changes, followed by California and New Jersey—all of which have a sizeable immigrant population. The overall economic impact is likely to affect housing too.
D-backs president Derrick Hall: Franchise ‘still focused on Arizona’ Comments Share Top Stories Maybe this year is different, though. The blackout workedfor Arizona State a few weeks back, so maybe the Cardinalswill find similar success. Nevada officials reach out to D-backs on potential relocation The Cardinals are back, and they’ll be in black.Arizona will wear its alternate jersey Sunday against theGiants, according to ACCardinals.com’s Darren Urban,instead of the traditional home red.The jersey, which can be worn a maximum of twice per season,debuted last year and became an instant hit. However, while they may have looked good the team’s play didnot match its style, as the Cardinals struggled in the newduds, losing to both the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and SanFrancisco 49ers. What an MLB source said about the D-backs’ trade haul for Greinke Cardinals expect improving Murphy to contribute right away
Lost in all of it was the fact that by voicing theirdispleasure, right or wrong, the fans showed they cared.It’s a relatively new development for the ArizonaCardinals, and it’s one that should be celebrated, notcriticized. Of course, no Cardinals fan wants to boo anyone wearingred. Ask even the most ardent anti-Kolb fan and they’lltell you they’d rather the QB succeed and prove them wrongthan flounder and prove them right. But that desire shouldnot – and does not – prevent them from voicing theirdispleasure should they receive poor play from the mostimportant position in sports. Which, unfortunately, Cardinals fans have received far toooften. If there’s one thing the Kevin Kolb/John Skelton QBcontroversy has taught us, it’s that Arizona Cardinalsfans are a fickle bunch.And, as someone who grew up a Cardinals fan and sufferedthe annual abuse that came with the jerseys and hats, it’smuch better to be “fickle” than “non-existent”. When news came out about how some at the Cardinals FanFest last week booed Kevin Kolb after some errant passes,opinions were mixed. Some bashed the fans for piling on aQB in a practice. Others said Kolb deserved every bit ofanimosity, because the high-priced Kolb has been a high-priced disappointment thus far. Top Stories Comments Share D-backs president Derrick Hall: Franchise ‘still focused on Arizona’ Cardinals expect improving Murphy to contribute right away What an MLB source said about the D-backs’ trade haul for Greinke Nevada officials reach out to D-backs on potential relocation
Top Stories What stood out to Mayock is that Johnson also added two catches for 21 yards and a touchdown.“The thing that struck me immediately is how he runs pass routes,” said Mayock, after watching game film of Johnson’s time at Northern Iowa. “Kid’s a natural catcher of the football.”In the run game, Johnson also has natural instincts, making the right cuts behind a solid offensive line and blocking wide receivers like Larry Fitzgerald and John Brown. Mayock complimented Johnson’s pass protection against the blitz-happy Rams.With former starting running back Chris Johnson currently on the IR and Andre Ellington working his way back from injury, the Cardinals may indeed lean on the rookie this Thursday against the Vikings and beyond.“Understand this: You have a Super Bowl roster,” Mayock said, addressing Johnson. “Just do your job and you could be wearing a Super Bowl ring.” – / 24 0 Comments Share The 5: Takeaways from the Coyotes’ introduction of Alex Meruelo Did a 2 min hit on AZ 3rd round pick David Johnson and his impact with Chris Johnson out …check it out !https://t.co/sBvyEuRXVu— Mike Mayock (@MikeMayock) December 10, 2015Cardinals rookie David Johnson got his first big dose of carries against the St. Louis Rams this past weekend, and he impressed more than those who follow Arizona on a regular basis.NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock broke down film of the Cards running back after his 22-carry, 99-yard performance on the ground in Arizona’s road win. Former Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson retires Derrick Hall satisfied with D-backs’ buying and selling Grace expects Greinke trade to have emotional impact